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CCISD trustees approve resolution to repeal new A-F school ratings system

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The CCISD School Board approved a resolution to appeal the state's new A-F school accountability system. (KRIS) The CCISD School Board approved a resolution to appeal the state's new A-F school accountability system. (KRIS)
CORPUS CHRISTI -

The Coastal Bend's largest school district thinks the state's new A-F school and district accountability system doesn't make the grade. At its meeting on Monday, the CCISD School Board approved a resolution to repeal the ratings system that will take effect in the 2018-2019 school year.

CCISD joins more than 160 other school districts across the state to pass a similar resolution. The major point of contention for district leaders appears to be the role that standardized test scores will play in the grade that each campus or district will receive. 

According to the Texas Education Agency, districts and campuses will receive a rating of A, B, C, D or F for overall performance, along with ratings for performance in five different areas the TEA has identified as domains. More than half of that criteria, 55 percent, is based on STAAR test scores. CCISD officials believe that's unfair.

"It ignores completely .. where the student started and how much progress they made in that school year and that would be much better of an indicator -- a true picture of how the schools are doing," said Dr. Maria Luisa Guerra, CCISD Deputy Superintendent.

Further, she says a student's standardized test results that meet standards under the current accountability system would likely get a "C" rating under the new system. Dr. Guerra believes the criteria is too steep for many districts to ever attain an "A" rating.

Dr. Guerra said, "You would have to have the majority of your students scoring almost at a high -- at a commended level, meaning 90 percent of the test items would be correct."

CCISD Superintendent Dr. Roland Hernandez says the impact of the new system is already apparent based on a preliminary report released on Friday. The work-in-progress report was a requirement that came with the passage of the law in 2015.

Speaking on the current accountability system, Dr. Hernandez told trustees, "For example, you have Veterans Memorial High School that ranked number one in their group of 40. You have Ray High School ranked number one in their group of 40. Each of those schools -- one would be a D, one would be a C in this new system."

The superintendent says there is not enough explanation about what leads to the letter grade. "Imagine as a parent taking your student's report card and you have an overall grade of C and that's all you have to go by. It doesn't tell you what the student received in all the different content areas," he explained.

Board member John Longoria agrees that the accountability system is not the best, but he did not think it should be a point of focus for trustees. 

Longoria said, "We just have to spend our time on what we know is important, and that's student achievement and student improvement."

But other board members, including Marty Bell, say if the state isn't offering a system that improves student learning and achievement, it's their job to let legislators know. "I think that's real key that we send a message back to our legislators and say, 'You know what? We can do better,'" Bell insisted.

The repeal of the A-F school rating system is a priority for many education groups for this year's state legislative session, which starts Tuesday. One lawmaker has already filed a bill to get rid of the system.

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